NFL Rookie Rankings

NFL Rookie Rankings: Justin Herbert, Chase Young Lead

Written by on November 18, 2020

Every team has played at least half its regular-season schedule in this very unusual NFL season and there appears to be a three-man race for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year between three of the four quarterbacks chosen in Round 1 of this year’s draft: Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow (No. 1 overall pick), Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5) and the LA Chargers’ Justin Herbert (No. 6). Herbert is the one to beat thus far via odds.

Rookie Rankings | 2020 NFL Expert Analysis

While Burrow hasn’t faced either Herbert or Tua yet – Cincinnati did play the Chargers in Week 1 but L.A. was being led by QB Tyrod Taylor then; Herbert has started every game since – Herbert and Tua faced off last Sunday and Miami prevailed 29-21.

Tagovailoa passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 106.9 rating in the win. There should have been at least two interceptions for Tua that the Chargers dropped. It’s also the second time in three starts he failed to clear 200 yards.

Still, Tagovailoa, who has five touchdown passes and zero interceptions this season, has won each of his first three career starts and joins Carson Wentz (2016) as the only rookie quarterbacks to win their first three starts and throw zero interceptions in the Super Bowl era.

Herbert totaled three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in the loss. It was one of his worst games, with Herbert getting held under 250 yards for the first time this season. Herbert hit Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen on his touchdowns, with the latter not coming until late in the fourth quarter.

Herbert, who has 19 touchdown passes this season, is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least two touchdown passes in six consecutive games.

Burrow has been terrific for the most part but the former Heisman Trophy winner struggled last week in a blowout loss at Pittsburgh. Burrow completed 21-of-40 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. It was a very windy day and Burrow had a difficult time even once the conditions slackened. The majority of his yardage came before halftime. He seemed to be favoring his ankle a bit in the second half and was lucky to escape with “only” four sacks.  Only 24 of Burrow’s 213 yards came in the second half, as he went 5-of-15 passing in the final two quarters and the Bengals spent the entire time chasing a big deficit.

Burrow wasn’t fretting over the defeat or the one against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this season that was also lopsided.

“I think you never want it to happen,” Burrow said of the losses to the Steelers and Ravens. “But in my mind, we got two of those out of the way. Now I’ve played them one time, and I’m excited to play them the next time.”

Top Defensive Rookies

Washington defensive end Chase Young was the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and he’s your Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite – Young will get a chance to sack Burrow often on Sunday as Cincinnati visits Washington. Young has been limited to 3.5 sacks but has been a bit hampered by injury. Thanks in part to him, Washington has one of the best pass defenses in the league having allowed the fewest yards per game through the air.

However, Young was partly responsible for last Sunday’s loss in Detroit. Young was flagged for roughing Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford with 12 seconds left in the game. That moved the ball to midfield and the Lions were in position for a 59-yard field goal after a short completion to Marvin Jones. Matt Prater made the kick and Detroit won the game 30-27.

“I was going hard. it was a split decision, to go or stop, and I just went. Rookie mistake,” Young said.

Young’s top competition likely is from Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, who was picked near the end of Round 1 – in fact, Queen might be the one to beat now. The former LSU linebacker has recorded 52 tackles, five, four tackles for losses, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a pass defended and a touchdown.

The coaching staff seems keen on trying to work through the things he’s not so good at, evidenced by the fact that he’s played just under 250 coverage snaps (per Pro Football Focus), despite that being his biggest weakness.


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